Israeli Police Say Spurned Lover Set Up Murder of Jaffa Mother of Three

Six people suspected of involvement in the May murder of Samar Khatib, 32, were arrested last month, all relatives of victim's former partner – including two of his sons

Protesters demonstrating in Tel Aviv, calling for greater government funding to combat violence against women, December 4, 2018.
Tomer Appelbaum

Police have completed their investigation into the murder of Samar Khatib, an Arab woman from Jaffa who was killed in a drive-by shooting in May 2018 in Rishon Letzion. Khatib, 32, a mother of three, was killed because her partner refused to accept that she wanted to separate from him, investigators say.

Police filed a prosecutor’s statement on the murder in court Wednesday, a preliminary step before filing the full indictment, expected next week. Six people suspected of involvement in the murder were arrested last month, all relatives of Khatib’s former partner – including two of his sons. The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court ordered them held for another six days.

A bomb was planted in Khatib’s car the day before the murder, but the explosive device was disarmed by a police sapper. On May 28, 2018, Khatib was riding in a car near the Ein Hakoreh interchange when the car was shot at. A 23-year-old friend of hers, Naya Bazar, who was driving the car, was critically injured and Khatib was pronounced dead at the scene. Bazar remains paralyzed from the waist down as a result of her injuries.

The crime scene where Khatib was murdered, Rishon Letzion, May 28, 2018.
Moti Milrod

Police found that Khatib and Bazar were shot with two pistols, and a search of the suspects’ homes turned up a number of weapons, including an Uzi submachine gun, and an AK-47 and M-16 assault rifles. The police also seized a motorcycle and car allegedly used by the suspects in the murder.

The six suspects, all from the center of the country, have a history of drug offenses and violence. The investigation was conducted undercover for a few months and included wiretaps.

Security cameras were installed around Khatib’s home, which showed the planting of the bomb in her car. Her family said she asked for police help after the bomb was found and was offered protection in a hostel. She agreed, but wanted to bring her three children – ages 11, 12 and 13 – with her. The hostel refused to accept the 13-year-old boy, so she did not enter the hostel and was left without protection. Khatib was also offered a means of protection that would have allowed her to remain with her children, said sources in Tel Aviv city hall.

Lawyers for the suspects said they will respond after an indictment is filed.

“The motive for the murder, as the evidence shows, is the deceased’s desire to separate from her partner, who saw her as belonging to him,” said police.

The victim’s sister, Sarit, told Haaretz three weeks ago that she hoped justice would be done and that those arrested would be found guilty for the murder. Sarit said that since Samar’s murder, her sister’s children “barely go to school, are frustrated, undergoing psychological treatment. Whoever murdered their mother murdered them too along with her.”